BONUS: Troubleshooting your Agile adoption (and conversations) with Douglas Squirrel and Jeffrey Fredrick

We start this episode with a warning for Scrum Masters. The question Squirrel asks is: “what is the value the Scrum Master role brings?” If you want to hear my answer, you can listen to another podcast episode we recorded on the Troubleshooting Agile podcast with Jeffrey and Squirrel (make sure to check out part 2 of that conversation on the Troubleshooting Agile podcast). 

In this conversation, we mention an article on the Scrum Master Toolbox podcast blog, where we talk about the Scrum Master as an apprentice role for future CEO’s.

Hacking culture through conversations: Agile Conversations book

One of the interesting points the authors make is that the conversations that happen (or not) in an organization are what defines the culture of that organization. In this segment, we talk about why we must pay special attention to the quality of the conversations, and why talking about culture, without talking about the conversations in an organization, is a dangerous pattern. 

Finding and entering the right conversations in your organization

Why don’t Scrum Masters take a more active role in the conversations ongoing in their organization? We discuss the fear that drives the inaction of Scrum Masters and suggests some techniques we can use to get ourselves, and others to take an active part in shaping the organizational culture and conversations. 

We talk about how “frustration” can be a resource for Scrum Masters to find and unlock important conflicts and related conversations. Scrum Masters must take an active part in finding that frustration, and using it to move the team, and the organization forward. 

In this segment, we refer to Chris Argyris and his work on organizational development.

Tools for high-quality conversations that drive the right culture

Squirrel and Jeffrey present two of the tools in the Agile Conversations book and share how they help Scrum Masters improve their interaction skills, and learn to trigger better conversations. 

We discuss the Four RRRR’s tool as well as the TDD for people tool. You can learn more about these tools in the book Agile Conversations.

In this segment, we discuss the Ladder of Inference (avoiding jumping to conclusions), and the TDD for people tool (audio). 

A call to action: mine for conflict to help your team and organization grow!

We end this episode with a call to action. We discuss how mining for conflict (seeking conflict and using it to generate energy that drives conversations) can help you pave the way for a transformation in your team and in your organization. 

We refer to The 5 Dysfunctions of a Team, to describe how to create a safe environment where conflict is seen as an opportunity, rather than a threat.

About Douglas Squirrel and Jeffrey Fredrick

Squirrel has been coding for forty years and has led software teams for twenty. He uses the power of conversations to create dramatic productivity gains in technology organizations of all sizes. Squirrel’s experience includes growing software teams as a CTO in startups from fintech to biotech to music, and everything in between. He lives in Frogholt, England, in a timber-framed cottage built in the year 1450.

You can link with Douglas Squirrel on LinkedIn and connect with Douglas Squirrel on Twitter

Jeffrey Fredrick is an internationally recognized expert in software development and has over twenty-five years’ experience covering both sides of the business/technology divide. An early adopter of XP and Agile practices, Jeffrey has been a conference speaker in the US, Europe, India, and Japan. Through his work on the pioneering open-source project CruiseControl, and through his role as co-organizer of the Continuous Integration and Testing Conference (CITCON), he has had a global impact on software development. 

You can link with Jeffrey Fredrick on LinkedIn and connect with Jeffrey Fredrick on Twitter


BONUS: Peter Oliver-Krueger and Michael Dougherty on shifting from “product” to “people” centric practices in your Agile adoption

Download the first chapters of the book Shift: From Product to People at:

If you have already accessed the book, you can log back in at:

Peter and Michael just finished the first half of a book they are writing together on the topic of shifting our attention, and focus from the “product” focused techniques to “people” focused techniques in order to achieve superior performance. 

The first four chapters of the book are freely available here. Sign-up to get the first four chapters today.

Listen to the podcast with Peter and Michael in the player below, and check out the show notes with the details of the topics discussed.

The third wave of Agile adoption: People focus

As Peter and Michael describe it, we went through different phases of Agile adoption in the industry. The first phase was a move away from projects and into a “product” thinking approach to software development. The move to focus on people is according to Peter and Michael, the third major shift in our industry.  Continue reading BONUS: Peter Oliver-Krueger and Michael Dougherty on shifting from “product” to “people” centric practices in your Agile adoption

BONUS: The critical steps to become a Scrum Master, inspiration and tips for you to apply and become a more impactful Scrum Master

When Ben moved to another team he faced some pretty challenging situations. A fully distributed team with a Scrum Master in another country trying to juggle the time zone differences. 

It was only fitting that Ben would then take over the Scrum Master role shortly after. The journey from developer to Scrum Master is hard enough, but in this story, we talk about how to take on the Scrum Master role for a distributed team as well. Not an easy first assignment as a Scrum Master. Listen in to learn about that journey and the lessons that you can apply in your own work. 

The major obstacles Ben faced in his Scrum Master journey

Continue reading BONUS: The critical steps to become a Scrum Master, inspiration and tips for you to apply and become a more impactful Scrum Master

BONUS: Ryan Jacoby on the 7 responsibilities of an innovation leader

Innovation is a topic that gets a lot of attention. There are innovation processes, specific creative games for teams to work with to seek innovative ideas. There’s the Lean Startup movement that tries to codify innovation-friendly processes, and there’s also the UX community pushing the argument that we need more innovation in software companies.

You’ve probably heard the same argument at work. We need to be more innovative to be competitive. Great! But how?

In this episode, we explore how leaders can set up their organizations for innovation. Ryan Jacoby helps us explore the how of that critical question: how can we be more innovative?

Ryan has written a book titled Making Progress – The 7 Responsibilities of an Innovation Leader to describe how organizations can focus on enabling innovation in practice.

The first action you, and your organization need to take

Ryan describes an approach that aims to focus on the team and organization on the customer needs. His approach is simple and immediately actionable. First start by jotting down in plain language and from the point-of-view of the user/customer: what problems are you trying to solve for that customer? Select the top 3.

The other dimension of innovation is your organization’s goals. Define what it means to meaningfully grow the impact of the organization over 6 to 18 months. This growth could be in the number of customers, revenue growth, profit, etc.

Now you have the start of a growth strategy that is centered on customer needs and also directly linked to the company’s/organization’s growth. Next, we talk about innovation in practice.

The 7 responsibilities of an innovation leader

When it comes to putting innovation in practice, Ryan argues that there are 7 areas to take into account.

  1. Define progress for your organization, in other words: what is the impact you seek and the growth in that impact factor
  2. Set an innovation agenda by prioritizing the innovation problems to solve, user and customer groups you want to serve, nature type of innovation to pursue.
  3. Create support teams that build the product
  4. Cultivate the ingredients for success for innovation
  5. Giving great feedback to teams: prepare and setup the feedback moments so that teams can learn quickly.
  6. Inspire progress
  7. Reward progress (as defined in #1)

Ryan explains how he came to value these 7 responsibilities of an innovation leader by telling us his own story when he was responsible to help the New York Times grow their impact through innovative solutions.

Ryan’s book: lessons learned about each of the 7 responsibilities of an innovation leader

You can read more about Ryan’s work and find his detailed explanation of the 7 responsibilities of an innovation leader in his book: Making Progress – the 7 responsibilities of an innovation leader.


About Ryan Jacoby

Ryan Jacoby, is the founder of MACHINE, a strategy, and innovation company that helps its clients Think Big and Act Small.

MACHINE clients over the years have included people responsible for growth and innovation at The New York Times, Marriott, Viacom, Etsy, Google, Nike, The Washington Post, Feeding America, Fresh Direct, NBC Universal, and The Knight Foundation.

Prior to founding MACHINE, Ryan led teams and relationships at the design and innovation firm IDEO. He was a founding member and location head of the IDEO New York office and built the Business Design discipline at the firm.

Ryan is also the author of the book named “Making Progress” with Sense and Respond press. A book he describes as “a tactical guide for you, the person charged with leading innovation”

You can link with Ryan Jacoby on LinkedIn and connect with Ryan Jacoby on Twitter.

For more on Ryan Jacoby’s work, visit his company’s site at

BONUS: Jeff Patton shares his view on the Product Owner role, and what Scrum Masters can do to help

In this episode, we explore some of the critical lessons Jeff learned in his own career as a Product Owner. We review the missing aspects in most Product Owner role implementations and discuss the tools that have helped Jeff as a Product Owner first, and later his students.

The first steps of Jeff’s journey as a Product Owner

Read on for the detailed show notes, and all the links

Continue reading BONUS: Jeff Patton shares his view on the Product Owner role, and what Scrum Masters can do to help

BONUS: Dean Leffingwell on scaling Agile and the Scaled Agile Framework, SAFe

scaled agile overviewFor this first Christmas 2018 special we focus on scaling Agile, and specifically how the Scaled Agile Framework (SAFe) can help organizations take Agile and apply it in the large.

There are many systems that require multiple teams to work together. As more and more industries adopt software as a core part of their services and products, we also see many organizations developing many products concurrently, and large engineering organizations that require coordination across tens or hundreds of teams, including non-software teams.

In this episode, we discuss how SAFe can help you take Agile to that type of environments and organizations.

Read on for the detailed show notes, as well as all of the links.

Continue reading BONUS: Dean Leffingwell on scaling Agile and the Scaled Agile Framework, SAFe

The power of visualization to drive action and manage work

“What’s the most important work to do right now?”

This is a question that every Scrum team should know the answer to. Not knowing the answer means more meetings, more disagreements, more conflicts, and ultimately the wrong work gets done first. But this does not happen because anyone is doing something wrong! It happens because there’s no common, agreed and clear way to decide what is the most important work. How to solve this problem?

Continue reading The power of visualization to drive action and manage work

Marc Löffler on Causal Loop Diagram and other systems thinking tools

There are many tools that we can use, just like Causal Loop Diagram, to help us understand the deeper dynamics in our organizations. We discuss several of those tools and also how to use them. Finally, Marc introduces his book Retrospektiven in der Praxis: Veränderungsprozesse in IT-Unternehmen effektiv begleiten and why he wrote it. NOTE: the book will be available in English in the near future.
We also mention a systems thinking tool called Current Reality Tree that you can use to investigate the system you work within.

About Marc Löffler

Marc’s passion is to help teams implementing agile frameworks like Scrum and XP and to transform our world of work. Marc loves to help teams, that are struggling with agile transitions, to overcome dysfunctional behaviour. He loves to generate new insights by approaching common problems from the other side and trying to deliberately make havoc of the process.
You can connect with Marc Löffler on Twitter, and link with Marc Löffler on LinkedIn.
He hosts a Blog in English and another blog in German.

Jeremy Jarrell shares a tool that every Scrum Master must use daily

There is a tool that every Scrum Master must use daily, the mental checklist of whom you’ve talked to. Jeremy shares how he uses that tool to keep tabs on how the team is doing, and how to help them further.
In the episode we also talk about a classic that every Scrum Master should read: How to win friends and influence people, by Dale Carnegie. This book, according to Wikipedia, will:

  1. Get you out of a mental rut, give you new thoughts, new visions, new ambitions.
  2. Enable you to make friends quickly and easily.
  3. Increase your popularity.
  4. Help you to win people to your way of thinking.
  5. Increase your influence, your prestige, your ability to get things done.
  6. Enable you to win new clients, new customers.
  7. Increase your earning power.
  8. Make you a better salesman, a better executive.
  9. Help you to handle complaints, avoid arguments, keep your human contacts smooth and pleasant.
  10. Make you a better speaker, a more entertaining conversationalist.
  11. Make the principles of psychology easy for you to apply in your daily contacts.
  12. Help you to arouse enthusiasm among your associates.

About Jeremy Jarrell

Jeremy Jarrell is an agile coach and author who helps teams get better at doing what they love. He is heavily involved in the technology community, both as a highly rated speaker as well as a syndicated author whose articles and videos have appeared on numerous popular websites.
You can connect with Jeremy Jarrell on twitter, and link with Jeremy Jarrell on LinkedIn. Jeremy’s web-site is at
Jeremy’s latest video course, Agile Release Planning, is available now from